If you needed a visual of just how hard-hit the cruise industry has been, look no further than the map below.
This map, from the website CruiseMapper.com, shows the current location of dozens of cruise ships off the coast of Florida near Miami and Fort Lauderdale. These ships are currently sitting idle as the entire industry has suspended sailings.
Because of a limited amount of spots to dock, cruise ships are taking turns. A ship will dock, get supplies it might need, and then head back to sea to bide their time and let another ship in its space. While they are sailing with no passengers, crew members are still aboard.
This is going on all around the entire country, in ports from Los Angeles to Charleston.
But when it comes to cruising, Florida is the king. Each year millions of passengers sail from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, and Tampa, and many ships homeport here.
Combined, these cruise ports have dozens of spots to dock and the facilities to handle multiple ships at once. For that reason, ships are staying in the region while cruises are suspended.
All told, we counted more than 40 cruise ships docked at the Port of Miami or Port Everglades or sailing in the area. This includes ships from all the major cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian.
The map above is color coded, based on cruise line:
- Red: Carnival
- Light Green: Royal Caribbean
- Dark Green: Princess Cruises
- Yellow: Holland America
- Orange: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Purple: Celebrity
- Blue: MSC
It also includes ships that have made headlines during the outbreak like Holland America’s Zaandam and Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess. These ships have recently been allowed access to port and let off passengers after delays due to reported sick passengers.
For the time being, it looks like this “traffic jam” of cruise ships off the Florida coast will keep going for weeks.
Following recent extensions of their suspensions, many cruise lines now plan to return in mid-May. However, that may be extended even further. In the meantime, cruise ships continue to be stuck in limbo.
Read: Anticipated Return to Sail Dates for Major Cruise Lines
Big Changes Likely For the Cruise Industry
Cruise lines cancelled sailings roughly a month ago, with plans to return in mid-April. With the outbreak still continuing, those returns dates have been adjusted. Most cruise lines have plans to return in mid-May.
Given that’s only a month away, that may end up being too optimistic. This outbreak is still spreading (although it has seemingly slowed some), and appears it will still be around in a month.
We think it will be well into the summer or fall before cruises start back sailing, even in a limited capacity.
When cruises do sail again, it’s likely that there will be some big changes to the industry. As covered here, we think passengers can expect differences large and small when sailings return. This includes…
More Sanitation on Ships: During the start of the outbreak, cruise ships stepped up their efforts to keep ships clean by sanitizing common spaces more often, increasing the number of sanitizer stations, and serving food directly (instead of passengers getting their own). Expect these sorts of actions to return for the long-term as cruise lines focus on keeping all illness at bay.
Bigger Discounts to Sail: One benefit that passengers might see are lower prices for cruises. In fact, we’ve tracked a number of cruises that are already showing lower prices than they were just a few weeks ago. When it comes to increasing demand, lower prices is one of the easiest tools that cruise lines have to fill up the ships.
Fewer Refurbishments: The financial impact of suspending cruises runs into the billions of dollars of lost revenue. That’s going to take time to overcome, and you can expect cruise lines to do what they can to strengthen their balance sheets. That could mean big expenditures like refurbishments are delayed or scaled down.
You can see more of how the cruise industry could change in the video below.